The second annual Words on the Waves Writers Festival declared a ‘huge success’

With over 60 authors coming from all corners of Australia across six days, Words on the Waves 2022 was deemed a ‘huge success‘ and a deeply enriching experience for all who attended, writers and festival-goers alike. Approximately 2745 adult and 1375 local student attendances were recorded across 30+ sessions, all of which were sold out or close to capacity. Words on the Waves is the first writers festival to take place on the Central Coast.

Based on the success of the 2021 pilot event, in 2022 the not-for-profit doubled its Adult Day Pass Program for Saturday June 4 and Sunday June 5, running simultaneously across not one but two venues with panoramic views, Umina Beach Surf Lifesaving Club and Ocean Beach Surf Lifesaving Club.

Highlights for these days included a conversation exploring creativity with Charlotte Wood; a lively crime fiction panel with Bryan Brown and Chris Hammer; a deep dive into sustainability and land management with Matthew Evans, Gabrielle Chan and Victor Steffensen; as well as discussions about politics, historical fiction, mortality, climate grief and more. Authors and attendees alike commented on the incredible combination of a stunning location overlooking the Broken Bay coastline and diverse and engaging programming. 

The 2022 festival also introduced a number of new event offerings, including Late Night Lit (poetry and readings), adult writing workshops, and a Book Launch program to spotlight local and emerging authors. This is in addition to its now established offerings of a Friday Night Conversation event (in 2022 with Hannah Kent and Van Badham) as well as its Cinema Screening hosted by Festival Patron Margaret Pomeranz (with BAFTA-winning Luke Davies) and its Literary Cruise (with Ian Hoskins, Delia Falconer and lauded poet Robert Adamson). 

Bestselling author Kate Forsyth commented: “Such a brilliant, inspiring thought-provoking weekend,” while award-winning author Charlotte Wood said: “a beautiful festival – so superbly organised and promoted.”

The festival also included two days of Primary School Program, with speakers including award-winning authors Katrina Nannestad, Anna Ciddor, and Deb Abela, and illustrators Sami Bayly and Dub Leffler. On Sunday June 5, it offered a Family Fun Day with visiting storytellers Kate and Jol Temple as well as circus and face painting, as part of its mission to foster a love of reading in the next generation of readers and writers. 

Our survey results indicate that 98% would attend Words on the Waves in the future, with an average rating of 4.72/5 stars. The majority of attendees surveyed purchased either a book, beverage, accommodation or other while at the festival, thus driving indirect economic contribution to local small businesses. Of those surveyed, 33% came from out of the region.

Local independent bookseller, The Book Shop Umina reported the following books as the Top Ten bestsellers for the festival: 

  1. Devotion by Hannah Kent (Pan Macmillan)
  2. Finding the Heart of the Nation by Thomas Mayor (Hardie Grant)
  3. QAnon and On by Van Badham (Hardie Grant)
  4. Dear Son by Thomas Mayor (Hardie Grant)
  5. Sweet Jimmy by Bryan Brown (Allen & Unwin)
  6. The Boy Who Stepped Through Time by Anna Ciddor (Allen & Unwin)
  7. The Mother Wound by Amani Haydar (Pan Macmillan)
  8. Finding our Heart by Thomas Mayor (Hardie Grant)
  9. Soil by Matthew Evans (Murdoch Books)
  10. The Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth (Penguin)
    And Root & Branch by Eda Gunaydin (NewSouth Books)

Words on the Waves Chair Jacqui Barton says: “Words on the Waves Writers Festival’s success is an indication of collaboration, hard work and passion and we look forward to doing it all again in 2023.”

With sincere thanks to our Partners: 


Words on the Waves is a not-for-profit literary festival, the first of its kind for the Central Coast region. Its mission is to deliver an immersive annual festival of stories, ideas and connection, set against the scenic Central Coast, and to enrich the cultural landscape of the region year-round. Its vision is to become one of Australia’s leading regional literary festivals, known for its vibrant and diverse program as well as its unique setting.

It held its inaugural event June 11 – 14, 2021 after a year of planning by a volunteer-led committee. Its second event took place June 3 – 6, 2022, and it is now planning for its 2023 event.

With two full days of author talks and panels held concurrently across two venues, as well as an evening conversation event, a cinema screening, late night poetry reading event, literary cruise, family fun day and schools program, writing workshops and book launch program for local authors, the 2022 festival hosted over 60 inspiring authors, with approximately 2745 adult and 1375 local student attendances. 

In 2023 Words on the Waves Writers Festival will take place from Wednesday May 31 to Monday June 5.


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